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Retired general and Queen's professor wins Vimy Award

By Anita Jansman

Don W. Macnamara, a retired brigadier-general and professor in the Queen’s School of Business, is the 2013 recipient of the prestigious Vimy Award.

The Vimy Award is presented annually by the Conference of Defence Associations (CDA) Institute to a Canadian in recognition of significant and outstanding contributions to the defence and security of Canada and the preservation of its democratic values. Previous recipients include eminent Canadians such as the Rt. Hon. Joe Clark, General Rick Hillier, the Rt. Hon. Adrienne Clarkson, and Historian Dr. Jack Granatstein.

Retired Brigadier-General and Professor Don Macnamara.

“I am honoured to be recognized in this way. My entire life has been influenced by the Second World War, and then the Cold War just as my father’s was influenced by both the First and Second World Wars,” says Brigadier-General (Ret'd) Macnamara. “I believe strongly that today’s students must understand the 20th century conflicts in Europe and Canada’s significant roles – and the heavy costs in lives.”

Following a 37-year career in the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Canadian Forces, Brigadier-General (Ret'd) Macnamara, a specialist in national and international security studies, joined the School of Business as a professor of international business. It was in this role that Macnamara recognized a need for Canadian students to not only be aware of what’s going on in the world, but to be active participants in an emerging globalized society.

It was therefore fitting that professor Macnamara was selected to lead the startup, and subsequently serve as Executive Director, of the Bader International Study Centre (BISC) at Herstmonceux Castle, England. “Directing the startup of the BISC has certainly been a highlight of my academic career,” he says.

Professor Macnamara developed programs for BISC students to visit Vimy Ridge, a key location in France during WWI, where Canadian soldiers demonstrated their fortitude and bravery. Another visit in France honours the thousands of Canadian soldiers killed and wounded at the Dieppe Raid in WWII. In total, he organized and conducted visits for more than 1,000 students to these important sites.

Bill Leggett was Queen’s Principal when the BISC was being established and he credits Brigadier-General (Ret'd) Macnamara with taking what “was essentially a vacated old building and helping to turn it into the magnificent university campus it is today.”

“Don is a remarkable individual. He’s extraordinarily focused and strategic. He established a vision for the BISC and inspired all sorts of people to join him in realizing that vision,” says Dr. Leggett. “I’ve met a lot of accomplished people in my life and Don ranks way up at the top.”

Professor Macnamara taught in the Commerce and MBA programs, developed and directed a Public Executive Program for the School of Business and became the Director of the International Business Program for the University's Executive MBA. He also played a key role in the strategic plan for Queen’s Theological College and then served on its board as chair of the Strategic Planning Committee for almost 10 years, for which he received a distinguished service award in 2005. He was the director and associate director of the Public Executive Program and a faculty associate and senior fellow in the university's Centre for International Relations. He was a co-awardee of the School of Business Scholars of Excellence Award and received the Commerce Society Teaching Excellence Award.

In retirement, beginning in 1999, Professor Macnamara continued as an associate adjunct professor and taught part-time in the Commerce and EMBA programs. For 15 years he was the honorary colonel of the Canadian Forces College – Canada’s military post-graduate professional development centre – and taught on every Canadian Forces College Command and Staff Course between 1974 and 2011. In 2012 received the Canadian Forces Medallion for Distinguished Service.

Other accomplishments in General (Ret'd) Macnamara’s stellar career include being President of the Canadian Institute of Strategic Studies, of which he was a founding member, and leading the establishment of the Lester B. Pearson Canadian International Peacekeeping Centre. He is a former president of the CDA Institute, and a member of their Board of Directors. He is currently the chair of the Board of Governors of the Royal Military College of Canada.

The Vimy Award will be presented on Friday, November 8 at a gala dinner in the Canadian War Museum, Ottawa.